Why I’m learning Italian / Perché sto imparando l’italiano

Varese Ligure


The reason why I’m learning Italian is pretty much summed up by this picture.

It’s not because of the brightly colored houses…or the quaint and charming village…these are just some of the bonuses.

This little village in the picture is where my great-grandparents are from. Varese Ligure is a sleepy farming village nestled in the mountains not too far from Cinque Terre.

My grandfather was born just after his parents immigrated to California. Since his parents didn’t speak any English, his first language was Italian. He didn’t even learn English until he went to school, and always spoke with an accent.

I never met my grandfather because he died before I was born. I feel like I know him though, through my mother and grandmother’s stories of him. I grew up with my mom always telling me stories of “the old timers” (her relatives from Italy), and her passion for her Italian heritage was passed on to me.

Unfortunately, during the time my mother was growing up, the attitude in the United States was that if you are American, you speak English.

I’ve always felt that language and identity are interconnected. Speaking Italian is one of the things that defined my grandfather. To me, the Italian language is like a family heirloom that I am missing and want to reclaim. It is the only tangible way that I can know a small part of my grandfather.

Perché sto imparando l’italiano? Per conoscere un po’ mio nonno.  


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Ciao, I'm Kelly!

Welcome to my adventures in learning Italian, often while cooking authentic Italian recipes and wine tasting! I love discovering the traditional regional cuisine of Italy and trying to recreate those dishes when I'm back home in the US. I'm also on my way to becoming an Italian citizen through jure sanguinis (by ancestry).

WSET Level 2 Certified Wine Blogger


Join me for a virtual "aperitivo chat" to get exclusive updates on my Italian progress, dual citizenship journey, plus food & wine adventures in the Bel Paese and beyond!

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[…] Italy. I was really curious to know where my ancestors had come from. Also, Italian was my late grandfather’s first language, so I felt learning Italian would be a beautiful way to honor his memory and continue his […]


[…] So she decided to take matters into her own hands and start learning Italian! On her blog Italian at Heart, Kelly shares her journey to learn her grandfather’s mother tongue, along with her […]

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